Digital Addiction In Kids
DIGITAL ADDICTION IN KIDS
Some days back an article was published in a well-known newspaper of India. It said two brothers (in their late adolescence) were hospitalized in a psychiatrist hospital for video game addiction. It happened twice that some thieves came in the house and took all the valuables even though the two brothers were at home and were playing video games in the living room. This was a shocking fact. This incidence led to many questions. How come the kids got addicted so much? Who is at fault? How come they are not interested in anything else? Why did the parents bought the video games at all? Where were the parents when the kids were getting bored?
The questions are endless. This is a loss not only of the parents but of the whole society. There are some more questions that arise in the minds of conscious parents. How to tackle this problem before it becomes a serious issue? How to avoid this addiction from taking place? There are many solutions to this problem but only if the parents are ready to accept and devote their time. Points for Parents to Understand And implement 1. Time it Out
First the parents need to check and decide how much time they are going to spend on TV, whatsap, Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. It is observed that when parents come back from their work they start using gadgets for hours to relax. Then watch TV while taking dinner. Send mails or messages before going to sleep. In between they are behind the child to study and then sleep.
2. Why Its Addictive
It is important to understand why kids get addicted to any gadget. Once you start watching TV a neurotransmitter called Dopamine is released by brain which is addictive. The same type of neurotransmitter is released when we exercise, when we are busy in our hobbies, when we do our work passionately. The same neurotransmitter is responsible for addiction of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. A beautiful article on the work of Dopamin is explained by Lisa Martinovic on the following link (https://medium.com/the-establishment/has-binge-watching-hijacked-your-dopamine-290e16b2daf5). This is the reason that for some people their work itself is relaxing and they don’t need other device to relax them. This is the reason that kids need to be exposed to different type of activities and then to decide which activity they are interested in.
3. Get Invovled with Kids
It’s a very rare phenomena when parents and kids are eating together, reading together, playing, discussing, studying. If parents are available to kids and engage in these activities together they won’t need anything else.
Parents can watch some movies, serials, cartoons together and discuss about it. It’s an opportunity to pass on your values, likes and dislikes, concepts of right and wrong, importance of hobbies, effects addiction of alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc. to the child. I remember I used to watch Doremon with my son. It was always difficult to make my son study. But one day while watching Doremon he said you know Mom, I like you because you are not like Nobita’s mom. You take my studies and she doesn’t that is why Nobita always fails. This needs to be done in childhood when their concepts are developing.
4. Be the Role Model
A different approach is needed in late childhood and when they are entering adolescent age. At this stage they learn more by role modeling. They keenly observe parents. Parents are their role models. They want to dress like parents, hair style, mannerisms and habits. They always have this secrete desire to be like Mom or Dad. Teaching and role modeling needs to go hand in hand.
5. Reach out for Professional Help
When your child reaches late adolescence or adulthood it is too late to change their addiction. At this age parenting doesn’t work but counseling does. So if you feel that your child is not listening to you, take him to a psychologist or counselor. They can help the child and the parent also to fight this addiction.
6. Never Compare
Never ever give them examples of their siblings or friends. It doesn’t work. It only creates inferiority feelings, low self -esteem and jealousy. It does not help to change their behavior. Just talk about what type of behavior will help them in future and what is needed to be done to change that behavior. Tell them that you are always there to help if they need.
7. Try Mind Diversion
It is ideal to remove television and video games from home. There are many households who don’t have television at home but they have provided abundant option to the child. For example lots of books, table games, hobby classes, sport clubs, good and recommended age appropriate movies, documentaries and most importantly friends and family.
Encourage the kids to do house hold work, cooking, cleaning. Fathers play a most important role in this. In India all these work is done by maid or the ladies in the house. If fathers take initiative and imbibe in the child that we all need to share the house hold work as the house belongs to everyone and not only mother. House hold work helps to develop many skills like motor coordination, time management, organization, observation, decision making, concentration, positive attitude for any work, importance of physical labor, it also helps in improving fitness.
8. Read about addiction
Parents can also read some research carried out on TV addiction to children so that they will understand the scientific basis of what parents are saying and not consider it as a part of daily nagging. A research article by Aric Sigman is shared for interested parents here.https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/828c/8b5d6701652def3c0945a62823e9730f64bd.pdf.
Let us all work to remove this devil from our houses. Kids will not learn it overnight. So just keep patience and be determined to work on it. We will all fail sometimes, we may want to give up and we may lose hope in the journey but let us keep the journey going on and on and on.
For any further discussion or counseling contact the writer .
Swapna Vithalkar ( About Her )
Ph.d in Clinical Psychology
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.